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National Park Service Renews Partnership With Mountain Bike Community


Five years after it entered into a memorandum of understanding to explore cycling opportunities in the National Park System, the International Mountain Bicycling Association has renewed the agreement with the National Park Service.

According to a news release from IMBA, the extension will run until 2015 and focus on efforts to build on existing projects and seek "new opportunities to enhance mountain biking in some of America's treasured national parks."

“Bicycling helps draw new visitors, especially younger people, and gives them fun, memorable experiences in the national parks,” said Park Service Director Jon Jarvis. “IMBA has shown through hard work and cooperative attitudes that they share our passion for protecting and enjoying our nation’s parks, and that they share our desire to cultivate that passion in a new generation.”

At IMBA, Executive Director Mike Van Abel said the initial five-year agreement "exceeded or expectations."

“At first there was some uncertainty about mountain biking in national parks, but each success we have created through this partnership has improved the next," said Mr. Van Abel. "Today, IMBA staff meet regularly with NPS officials in Washington and at park units around the nation to consider opportunities for the next round of shared-use trails.”

According to IMBA, among the achievements the relationship with the Park Service has led to are:

* Fighting obesity among the nation's youth. "The IMBA/NPS partnership is helping counteract this disturbing trend by restoring children’s exposure to the natural environment. For the sixth edition of IMBA’s Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, a partnership between IMBA, Trips for Kids, and the National Park Service created 20 opportunities throughout the country for kids to experience nature on a bike and learn about their local parks."

* The Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew has visited dozens of parks to work on trail-building projects. Parks they have visited include:

• Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
• Big Bend National Park
• Cuyahoga Valley National Park
• Fort Dupont Park
• Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
• Saguaro National Park
• Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
• Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
• Homestead National Monument of America
• Mammoth Cave National Park
• Hawaii’i Volcanoes National Park
• Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site
• Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
• Golden Gate National Recreation Area
• Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site
• Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site
• Glen Canyon National Recreation Are
• New River Gorge National River
• Point Reyes National Seashore
• Petroglyph National Monument


A step in the right direction. Cycling opportunities at Point Reyes are still a joke though, but then again, it's in the heart of Marin, a hotbed of bike haters.

How about telling the TRUTH, for a change? A mountain biker does NOT experience the park, any more than the driver of a motor vehicle experiences the park. If you don't give 100% of your attention to controlling the bike, you will crash! Permissing bikes on trails benefits ONLY mountain bikers, and harms the wildlife and other trail users. So where's the net benefit? There ISN'T any!

Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1994: . It's dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don't have access to trails closed to bikes. They have EXACTLY the same access as everyone else -- ON FOOT! Why isn't that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking....

A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it's not true. To settle the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited, and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see ). I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

Those were all experimental studies. Two other studies (by White et al and by Jeff Marion) used a survey design, which is inherently incapable of answering that question (comparing hiking with mountain biking). I only mention them because mountain bikers often cite them, but scientifically, they are worthless.

Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife and other trail users out of the
area, and (worst of all) teaches kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it's NOT!). What's good about THAT?

For more information: .

FYI, MVD is a well known mountain bike hater from the San Francisco bay area who has been spreading the same misinformation for the last 20 years. A quick look at his website will give you a good overview of the character. :) For those interested, there is a fun Mike Vandeman FAQ floating around the web.

Mike---Thank you for pointing out the Federal Court verdict at Quite a long read, but very informative. But, after having read it, I find myself confused. Why is there a new memorandum of understanding to explore cycling opportunities in the National Park System? Can someone explain this to me?
I apologize for rehashing what has been gone over before so many other times in related posts and I apologize for my continual quotations to the case, as it may falsely construe that I have no original statements or ideas of my own...I simply see using the court’s "final words" on the subject to be much more black and white. What I have to say is, obviously, my opinion and can be argued with. A federal court’s...not so much. And besides, it gleans the highpoints from within all the legal-eeze so it is much easier for the mountain bikers to follow (just kidding).
The ruling clearly states that the Supreme Court established that if the intent of Congress is clear, then "that is the end of the matter; for the court, as well as the agency, must give effect to the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress." Therefore if you take into account: 1) "The National Park Service Organic Act provides that the National Park Service shall: promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified, . . . by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations", and 2) Congress’s 1970 and 1978 amendments to the Organic Act that NPS alter its practice of governing recreational park units under less restrictive standards and instead manage all areas of the park system uniformly with the fundamental goal of resource protection in mind", the matter appears to be pretty much closed.
As pro mountain bikers on this site will try to point out, I'm sure, the Organic Act does not directly speak on the issue of bicycle trail access. Again, I will defer to the federal ruling: "...the Secretary is directed to conserve the natural elements of the parks for the future, 16 U.S.C. section 1, to "provide for the enjoyment" of the parks, to manage the parks "in light of the high public value and integrity of the National Park System," 16 U.S.C. section 1a-1, and to make such rules as "he may deem necessary or proper for the use and management of the parks." 16 U.S.C. section 3. Thusly, an interpretation that the Organic Act allows for this closed-unless-designated open approach for bicycle trail access cannot be termed "manifestly contrary to the statute”."
For those users that cry for their right to ride their mountain bikes in the National Parks, you are more than welcome to as the NPS has stated “that the use of bicycles is allowed in park areas under the same basic conditions as are motor vehicles, i.e. on park roads, in parking areas, and on routes designated for their use. These provisions reflect the facts that the NPS generally considers bicycle use a very appropriate, low impact method for visitors to enjoy park areas, but that certain limitations on their use are necessary and appropriate in the interest of public safety, resource protection, and the avoidance of visitor conflicts.”....The NPS has determined that the designation of a bicycle route outside of such developed areas, in areas whose primary purpose and land uses are related more to the preservation of natural resources and values, would have a much greater potential to result in adverse resource impacts or visitor use conflicts.” It is here, in the frontcountry that the environmental damage and the negative user-to-user interaction from mountain bikes can be minimized.
While many mountain bikers vehemently disagree with the fact that their use causes increased erosion and damage to plant life or cause negative experiences for anyone else (because after all, its not their fault that we are in their way), they often argue that the NPS’s ban is simply arbitrary because it is based on “inadequate data, that no rational connection is established between the data found and the results reached”. What they seem to forget is that “the NPS is not required to embrace the bicyclists' “evidence” and is free in its exercise of expertise to give conflicting evidence whatever weight it deems appropriate in light of the accuracy and credibility of such evidence.” As for the NPS’s evidence to mountain bikes impairment (which is too lengthy to recount here), I will refer those interested to go to the above link and scroll about a third of the way down.
Because I could not have said it better myself, I will end with one last quote from the court to those who want more access: “There is simply nothing in the Organic Act requiring the NPS to give bicyclists unfettered reign of the park without regard to the recreational interests of those whose chosen mode of recreation is inconsistent with such unfettered reign. These statutes certainly do not mandate the interpretation that bicycles must be allowed to roam free through the park.”

These quotes are not from ‘mountain bike hater’ MVD’s website, but from an impartial court case, he originally referenced, that is dealing only with the law. :) Sorry Zeb.

What an odd notion -- unfettered bicycles roaming free in national parks. Not only grammatically suspect but plainly not what the NPS/IMBA partnership has achieved. As the IMBA press release makes explicitly clear, there are now dozens of successful examples of well-planned mountain bike venues in national parks. Visit these place and you will see that visitors are sharing trails without conflict, that the natural beauty of the properties is undiminished and that the parks are benefiting from the support of the local mountain bike communities.

Mr. dentist, the court said that there is no mandate to make access universal to cyclists, but it also did not say that there is mandate to ban cyclists as well. So, basically, all it's saying is that the NPS can do as it wants with our parks. So, if they want to, they can continue to ban cyclists based on irrational/illogical reasons, simply because there is no mandate from Congress to give us access. I don't see how the law makes either one of us "right".

The fact remains that many national parks are off limits to cyclists for no good reason (I won't go over them again, it's somewhere on this site), and the law simply takes no side, leaving the NPS to make up rules as they go.

Mountain bike haters of all stripes take comfort that the NPS has historically been bike averse (to say the least) and mountain bikers have a glimmer of hope that things seem to change. It always comes down to the same thing: those who have unrestricted access simply don't want to share and keep the tax payer funded parks to themselves. Since "not wanting to share" is not really something to be proud of, it gets dressed up in all kinds of arguments that really have not much to do with reality.

Happy trails.

This is off-topic, but I'd like to mention to Kurt that if it weren't for Google I would not have encountered this discussion. If Kurt's site wants to reach out to a wider audience, it should do what and New West do and enable people to be signaled by e-mail when they get a followup comment in a particular thread to which they posted. It appears that the system here generates a reply to ANY post in ANY thread if one signs up to receive replies, which makes one not want to request replies. Then threads die more quickly than they ought and end up attracting fewer readers than they might. Of course I could be wrong about the system's operation; moreover, it's been months since I last checked the response-generating system. But that's what I perceive.

C'mon, imtnbke, you should be reading the Traveler daily and not need any email notifications;-)

We have noticed some issues with the email notification system, and hope to cure them soon.

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